Thursday, 24 January 2013

Approve Bentley Heath OAP flats plan, council report says

A PLAN for flats for OAPs at a Bentley Heath field should be approved next week, a council planning officer has said.

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The Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council report says the 52-room, two-storey building at Four Ashes Road will free up much-needed homes otherwise occupied by OAPs.

Its design and impact on neighbours and roads is acceptable, it adds. The planning committee will make a decision on Wednesday on the Aspen Retirement Ltd plan.

The report says: “The applicants assert that the proposal would provide much needed accommodation for elderly people, whilst freeing up existing housing stock which would then be available for sale on the open market.

“This is considered to be a viable proposition, especially given the mix of dwelling units proposed which comprise one and two bedroom units.”

It said the number of borough over 75s is set to increase by 7,000 from 2008 to 2023, putting pressure on housing.

The building will comprise self-contained “extra care apartments” and provide support for independent living and 29 parking spaces with access from Four Ashes Road.

The report said the average age will be 82 and residents will get meals, laundry, cleaning and 24-hour support.

None of the council’s departments – including highways – raised objections but eight residents opposed the plan.

One said resident in Packwood Close – which abuts the site – would be “significantly impacted through loss of privacy”.

They added: “Building far too large for the site and extremely close to boundary. Balconies will look straight onto back garden and house.”

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Another said: “Despite 40mph speed limit cars travel too fast and visibility poor approaching railway bridge.”

But the planning officer says: “Whilst the building is of a considerable bulk and scale, particularly in relation to the surrounding grain of built form, it is acknowledged that the overall bulk is minimised by the two-storey height of the proposed building, it’s ‘H’ shaped form and buffer planting to the boundaries.”

The site has been marked as a possible site for future development by the council and also for housing. A plan for 38 homes was last year rejected by planners as too small.

Permission will require the developer to give cash to expand full Arden school, proposed at £177,402. The firm has accepted this as the development will free up homes for families.

It comes after the committee last month refused a plan for a 60-bed care home at part of the site owned by The Old Silhillians Sports Club in Knowle.

Members said the plan – which the club said was vital to pay for improvements to its facilities - would damage the Green Belt.

The committee will meet at 4.30pm on Wednesday at the council’s offices next to Touchwood. The public can attend.